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First COVID-19 Case Confirmed in Avery County; Close Contacts of Individual Have Been Identified

By Tim Gardner

It was likely to happen at some time during the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and it did Monday afternoon, May 18th.

Avery County, which had been the only county among North Carolina’s 100 without a COVID case, finally has its first confirmed case of the potentially deadly virus.

The Avery County Health Department recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Avery County as of 3:00 p.m. Monday.

The department said in a release that the individual afflicted with the virus is currently in isolation, and that public health staff have already initiated an investigation. Close contacts of the individual have been identified, and officials are working to contain the spread of the virus.

The Toe River Health District, which also encompasses Mitchell and Yancey counties besides Avery, has reported two additional COVID-19 cases in Yancey County, brining that county’s total to 10 confirmed cases.

Mitchell has six confirmed cases.

“As our counties start opening back up, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is still here,” Toe River Health District Health Director Diane Creek said. “We are blessed in Avery County to have a strong community. Your public officials and county leadership have been working tirelessly to prepare for the impact of this virus. Community members can do their part by continuing to follow the guidelines, and remember that we’re all in this together, and to support one another.”

North Carolina health officials report there have been a total of 19,023 lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state as of 3:00 p.m. Monday, May 18, according to statistics posted from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

The state also reports 661 virus-related deaths and that 511 people are currently hospitalized in the state with COVID-19.

The Raleigh News & Observer newspaper reported that 691 individuals in the state have died from the virus.

According to Toe River Health District officials, 438 people in Avery County have been tested, with 405 negative results and 33 tests pending, as of 8:00 a.m. on May 18. The increase in tests administered and pending totals are primarily in part to the drive-through testing clinic held at Avery County Health Department’s parking lot in Newland on May 7th.